SAF, KNMA to present major group exhibition of pop art from South Asia

SHARJAH, 1st September, 2022 (WAM) -- Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) and Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) will present Pop South Asia: Artistic Explorations in the Popular, one of the first major exhibitions to provide a substantial survey of modern and contemporary South Asian art that engages with popular culture. The exhibition will be on view at the Foundation from 2nd September through 11th December 2022 before travelling to KNMA in 2023.

With over 100 works by artists from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the diaspora, Pop South Asia navigates multiple and diverse themes. The exhibition highlights artists who explore the aesthetics of print, cinematic and digital media, alongside those engaging with devotional practices, crafts and folk culture; it presents artists addressing modes of local capitalism, from large-scale industries to vernacular ‘bazaars’, as well as those commenting on identity, politics and borders.

Expanding the conventional canon of Pop Art, understood in the Western context primarily as art that addresses consumer culture and the media image, the exhibition foregrounds multiple layers and ideas embedded within the ‘popular’ in South Asia.

Pop South Asia brings to light knowledge and research relevant not only to South Asia, but also to parallel regions across the world, equally shaped by forces of capitalism and media as they continue to modernise and urbanise.

The exhibition will include artworks by Abdul Halik Azeez, Ahmed Ali Manganhar, Anant Joshi, Anwar Saeed, Atul Dodiya, Ayesha Jatoi, Baseera Khan, Bharti Kher, Bhupen Khakhar, C. K. Rajan, Chandraguptha Thenuwara, Chila Kumari Burman, Chitra Ganesh, Dhali Al Mamoon, G. Ravinder Reddy, Hangama Amiri, Jeanno Gaussi, K. M. Madhusudhanan, K. G. Subramanyan, Lala Rukh, L. N. Tallur, Lubna Chowdhary, Maligawage Sarlis, Mehreen Murtaza, M. F. Husain, Mian Ijaz ul Hassan, Muvindu Binoy, Naiza Khan, Pushpamala N., Raja Ravi Varma, Ram Rahman, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Saba Khan, Samsul Alam Helal, Seema Nusrat, Seher Naveed, Seher Shah, Shishir Bhattacharjee, Sunil Gupta, Tejal Shah, Thukral & Tagra, Tsherin Sherpa and Vivan Sundaram.

The exhibition features works across a range of media, including Atul Dodiya’s painting Gabbar on Gamboge (1997), a homage to Bollywood cinema’s iconic villain, Gabbar Singh, from the 1975 blockbuster Sholay. Dodiya’s playfulness with visual narratives is expressed in the artwork’s pastiche of popular cultural references. Baseera Khan’s lantern-like Chandelier (2021) sculptures rotate and reflect light, referencing the joyous, cross-cultural associations evoked by disco balls. Each of the patterns, though, are specific to Khan’s family’s collection of Islamic Arab and South Asian textiles and embroidery designs.

Other highlights include Bhupen Khakhar’s Janata Watch Repairing (1972) and De-Luxe Tailors (1972), reminiscent of the ethos of shops and businesses across small-town South Asia and rendered in a style and iconography drawn from commercial painting techniques, and Hangama Amiri’s textile installation Bazaar (2020), in which the artist wove her childhood memories of Kabul’s bazaars and transformed them to offer viewers a sense of place and time, alongside an awareness of the politicised present.

Organised by Sharjah Art Foundation and Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), New Delhi, Pop South Asia is curated by Iftikhar Dadi, artist and John H. Burris Professor at Cornell University, and Roobina Karode, Director and Chief Curator of KNMA.

On 2nd September, in conjunction with the exhibition’s opening in Sharjah, the Foundation will host curators Iftikhar Dadi and Roobina Karode and exhibition artists, for two discussions about the works and key themes, including questions of politics, public space and identity and their relation to the ‘popular’ in South Asian art. For more information and to register to attend, please visit

Admission to exhibitions is free and bookings can be made at